Queenstown Car Hire

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  • Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand and one of the leading ones in the world! From bungee jumping to white water rafting they have it all.
  • In fact, bungee jumping was invented in Queenstown by AJ Hackett.
  • Shotover River was one of the world’s richest gold bearing rivers during the gold rush era in the late nineteenth century.
  • There are 19 different types of endangered birds living at the Kiwi and Birdlife Park including 5 kiwis.
  • Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s longest lake and its deep enough for the lake floor to be below sea level.
  • The town’s Gay Ski Week is the largest gay pride festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Queenstown is at a latitude of 45 degrees south. Only two other countries in the world, Chile and Argentina are at the same latitude.
  • In 1885 all Queenstown hotels were run by women who all happened to be widows.
  • Queenstown’s Māori Name Is Tāhuna, Which Means ‘Shallow Bay’

Guide to Queenstown

Queenstown is an incredible little town surrounded by The Remarkables, a picturesque mountain range. The town overlooks Lake Wakatipu and is filled with tiny pedestrian streets, wonderful food, and a crazy nightlife. It is also the “adventure capital” of New Zealand and the launching pad for every sort of adventure or adrenaline activity you can think of. It’s also a great base for wine lovers with over 80 wineries within a two-hour drive of the centre.

Over the years, it has become very developed and tends to be pricier than other places in the country but that doesn’t mean you should rule out a break to this phenomenal town.

Things to do in Queenstown

The Queenstown Gardens are just a few minutes’ walk from central Queenstown and offer a beautiful and tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle. Set on its own tongue of land framing Queenstown Bay, this pretty park is the perfect city escape right within the city. Laid out in 1876, it features an 18-'hole' frisbee golf course, a skate park, lawn-bowls club, tennis courts, Queenstown Ice Arena, mature exotic trees (including large sequoias and some fab monkey puzzles by the rotunda) and a rose garden. The most notable tree is the huge Douglas Fir which provide some wonderful shade in the heat of the summer. The gardens also feature a couple of significant memorials including one for Captain Robert Scott, leader of the doomed South Pole expedition, which includes an engraving of his moving final message.

The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a five-acre home to over 10,000 native plants, geckos, skinks, tuatara and scores of birds, including kiwi, kea, kārearea, kākāriki and the endangered whio. Stroll around the aviaries, watch the conservation show and tiptoe quietly into the darkened kiwi houses. Kiwi feedings take place five times a day and are the perfect opportunity to glimpse this incredibly rare bird. Originally an unofficial rubbish tip, locals Dick and Noeleen Wilson leased the land in 1986 and began clearing the grounds with the vision of creating an oasis in the heart of the town. Most of the animals here are part of a conservation project which is funded by the entry fees. A 45-minute self-guided audio tour is part of the entry fee and you have access to the conservation and feeding shows.

The Queenstown Gondola is the perfect way to experience the glorious views that Queenstown has to offer. The iconic Skyline Gondola is the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere! You’ll be carried 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob's Peak, where you’ll enjoy a spectacular 220-degree panorama with breath-taking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak and, of course, Queenstown.

Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand and is so deep that its floor is beneath sea level. Five rivers flow into it but only one (the Kawarau) flows out, making it prone to sometimes dramatic floods. If the water looks clean, that's because it is. Scientists have rated it as 99.9% pure – you're better off dipping your glass in the lake than buying bottled water. Lake Wakatipu has many geographical similarities to Loch Ness. Therefore, it doubled as the famous Scottish Loch Ness in the film The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) and was one of the main filming locations in the movie. It is also a backdrop for several scenes in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, including Amon Hen. If you’d to see what lurks beneath the surface of the lake you can book tickets for the underwater observatory.

Disc Golf (or frisbee golf) has been played around Queenstown Gardens for decades. The course in the Gardens was the first permanently marked out course in New Zealand. Starting out with 17 object targets and one lone basket back in 1996, it has grown over the years and has now become a full 18 basket tournament course. Non members are welcome to take part in the regular tournaments so why not try your hand at it while you’re in town.

Riverboarding is something you’d be forgiven for having not heard of before but once you have tried it, you’ll be hooked. Experience fast flowing rapids of the Kawarau River, sheer drop cliffs and magnificent scenery as you navigate the aquamarine waters through a rocky gorge, with beautiful craggy bush-laden cliffs on either side of it. Riverboarding started in Queenstown 25 years ago and today, offers three levels of adrenaline adventure, in small personalized groups. Fully qualified and experienced guides will train and lead you throughout half day trips. If you're going to do one water activity in Queenstown, it has to be Riverboarding.

Eating out in Queenstown

Queenstown’s constantly evolving culinary scene never fails to impress. Food is an integral part of your holiday experience, and Queenstown is renowned globally for its great food, wine and legendary nightlife. Whether you want to taste the flavours of the region and savour the local produce, or you’re after something virtuous with healthy eating top of mind, the Queenstown food scene has you covered. There are over 150 bars and cafes in the Queenstown region, with everything from fine dining, restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, family-friendly eateries to boutique dessert diners.

Known as Queenstown’s best kept secret The Bunker has been delivering a rustic fine-dining venue that steers clear of all pretentiousness since 1997. Tucked away in a discreet alleyway in the town centre. An intimate atmosphere is complemented by a roaring fireplace and an impressive food and drinks menu. The Bunker’s lower level houses the restaurant, which specialises in game meats and local seafood delicacies. Upstairs, you will find a cosy cocktail bar and an elegant rooftop deck. The restaurant itself is small and intimate, ensuring a high level of quality and service; dim lighting and old school music create an almost private club atmosphere.

With queues that often stretch around the block Fergburger has so many choices on the menu you might need to use the wait time to decide what you’ll want. Operating since 2001 it has been a favourite by locals and visitors alike. Burger lovers claim that the restaurant is worthy of at least two Michelin stars so they must be doing something right! Try the classic Ferg with Cheese, Tropical Swine, the Chief Wiggam or the Cockadoodle Oink. The closest thing to another Ferg's is the opening of Fergbaker in 2011, a bakery next door that does a Kiwi favourite, the meat pie, proud. For hungry visitors to Queenstown, this is the fallback when Fergburger crowds prove too big a mountain to climb.

After gaining Michelin stars for restaurants in London, New York and LA, chef-owner Josh Emett now turned returned back home with Rata. This exceptional but surprisingly unflashy cooking make this upmarket yet informal back-lane eatery a real treat. The restaurant has earned a reputation for embracing local flavours with an elegant but contemporary twist. The wine list showcases the best wines to come out of the Central Otago region, while the menu consists of locally sourced seafood and various meat and cheese-based delicacies. Although its not the most expensive choice in Queenstown it’s not a budget option either.

If you are looking for dinner with a view then Nest Kitchen and Bar won’t leave you disappointed. Using only the finest local ingredients to design a compact yet flavourful menu combined with seductive lighting, an art deco style restaurant and awe-inspiring views make this an unforgettable experience. They have a unique selection of New Zealand Gin & Tonics, and an extensive list of Central Otago cellar wines that are only available at Nest. The calamari and saffron sliders featuring a charcoal bao bun, the flavourful fish tacos and the crowd-pleasing potato and chorizo croquettes all come highly recommended.

Transport in Queenstown

Queenstown Airport

There are direct flights to Queenstown airport from Australian cities, such as Brisbane and Sydney as well as many domestic flights. The airport is situated on the eastern side of Queenstown and easily accessible by bus and car.


The city is small enough that you can walk around it to see all of the tourist hotspots. There are buses to get to other parts of town which costs $2 and many of the hotels also have shuttle buses. There are also plenty of bus and shuttle services to the ski resorts. The city is accessible by public transport but they do take longer.

Driving Tips

Hiring a car is the best way to discover the wider region around the city. However you will not be alone to know this, so be forewarned that the roads can be busy. Due to this, parking spaces also fill up quickly and it is therefore worth arriving early mornings to get a space.

There are very few traffic light crossings so be aware of tourists crossing the street !

It is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving.

Be aware that the highways surrounding Queenstown are windy and have tight corners adn that the roads freeze in the winter.

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FAQs about car hire in Queenstown

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Queenstown

Queenstown airport is approximately 15 minutes from the city centre.
Car hire averages at about NZ$ 45 a day for a compact car, deals are available if booking well in advance but expect prices to be higher in peak season. It can be as low as NZ$ 14 a day during the low season.
In the airport itself you will find Scotties, Apex, Ezi, Firefly, Go Rentals, Avis, Budget, Herts, Europcar, Enterprise, Firefly, Economy and Sunnycars
You need to be over 21 with a valid international license, you can drive for up to 12 months on an international license in New Zealand. You must have held your license for a minimum of one year in order to hire a car. You’ll need to have had your license converted into English if it is not already.
Queenstown parking in the town centre is typically priced between $1-$4 per hour. The town's parking spaces fill up quickly so it's easier to find a parking space early morning or early evening. There are a number of free parking options around the town between 30 minutes and 240 minutes
Queenstown is very expensive, especially in high season. For travel purposes on average you’ll spend NZ$136 per day.
If you’re planning to travel around Queenstown and other big cities such as Auckland then it’s highly recommended to rent a car for your transportation.
The city itself is not very big and the roads are in great condition, so driving in the city is very simple and pleasant.
Located on one of the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is by definition the most fun city in New Zealand: ski slopes, water sports on the lake, several interesting trekking and cycling routes, an impressive cable car, lots of options related to extreme sports and adventure.
The best months for good weather in Queenstown are January, February and December. On average, the warmest months are January, February and December. August is the coldest month of the year.
For small cars the budget friendly options begin at NZ$160 for a week, which means more or less NZ$23 a day.
The cheapest offers allow you to rent a car for a whole month for NZ$841, or NZ$27 per day. As mentioned earlier, this depends on the season you book and the car type.
The average price of a litre of fue in Queenstown can vary between NZ$ 2.10 and NZ$ 1.83..